The not so sweet truth about sugar
We all know sugar is bad for us, it rots our teeth, causes weight gain and scientists have found it to be more addictive than the drug cocaine. In fact the first recoded warning that sugar was addictive was made in 1593 by the German botanist Leonhard Raulwolf, who noted it in the early traders bringing sugar cane to India.
At present 25% of all calories consumed in the UK are from sugar, with over 2.3 million tonnes of sugar being produced and consumed each year, again just in the UK! The world consumption of this addictive food is thought to be over 100 million tonnes per year.
Sugar can also be very disruptive to hormones as well as putting unnecessary pressure on the body. Studies show that one in three adults in the UK has high blood sugar, often caused by a modern diet full of sweet treats and hidden sugars that harm our bodies.
Here are a few tips to help curb your sugar cravings and hopefully cut it out of your diet:
Eat regularly – Eat little and often helps keep blood sugars balanced and include protein when you can. Protein sustains our energy and eating regularly prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping dramatically. We are then less likely to reach for a sweet pick me up.
Choose whole foods and read your labels – It’s not rocket science, avoid food that has been processed. Packaged, branded food is often processed and contains added and/or hidden sugars. Look out of hidden sugars such as sucrose, fruit juice, maltodextrin and honey. Food labels list by mass, so manufacturers can use many types of sugars in small amounts to fill out one product.
Avoid starting the day with sugar – Breakfast cereals and the like containing high starch and added sugar will lead to cravings later in the day. Eggs, fats and whole grains (whole gluten free oats, quinoa and brown rice for example) can help you feel fuller for longer, with slow-release energy.
Eat Fruit, not fruit juice – The fibre in whole fruit helps us to balance out its sugar content. Smoothies and juices shed or remove the fibre completely, which exposes us to high levels of fructose, which in turn raises blood sugar. Try to stick to water or diluted juice, if you’re thirsty.
Add spice to your foods – Spices and herbs can add a natural sweetness to foods. Add nutmeg, cinnamon or coriander to your food which can dampen down sugar cravings.
Keep busy – Filling your day with distractions, even a quick walk, can help you ignore the nagging need for a sugar hit.
Get physical – Exercise improves your insulin sensitivity, which helps with blood sugar levels. Also, by increasing muscle mass, you increase your body’s ability to use energy from food and reduce fat.
Take chromium as a supplement – If you struggle with sugar cravings you may be deficient in chromium so by supplementing it, it will help to stop your cravings. Chromium helps to remove sugar out of the blood, into cells and out of harm’s way.
Keep treats out of sight – Keep sugary snacks and junk food out of the kitchen and office. Then you won’t have access to it when temptation strikes. Try carrying unsalted raw nuts and seeds with you, so you’ve always got a healthy snack if you get hungry and tempted by sweets.
Sleep and de-stress – Tiredness can tempt us to use sugar for extra energy, so try to get enough sleep. Also look for the causes of stress or emotional issues that may be pushing you to find comfort in junk food.